Programming the BCS-460

>> Sunday, April 05, 2009

For those not familiar with the BCS-460, it's a web-based process controller available from Embedded Control Concepts. The BCS-460 allows brewers to automate certain processes and closely control things like mash temperature. The goal is to brew more consistently with more easily repeatable results. So if I brew "Recipe A" on three separate occasions, the end product should be very similar each time.

I've setup the initial programming on my BCS-460. I'm sure I'll tweak the programming slightly after a few trials, but here is the logic as it exists right now. I've named Process 0 Single Inf Mash and it consists of the following states:

  • System start
  • Start Mash
  • Dough-in
  • Mash
  • Mash Out
  • Start Sparge
  • Sparge

System Start

This state controls the heating elements in the Hot Liquor Tank (HLT) and Heat Exchanger (HEX). The water in the HLT will be heated for the strike water. The BCS-460 will heat the water to the desired temperature. This process is exited by clicking on one of the user input buttons.

Start Mash

During this state, only the HEX is on. This allows for transferring the strike water from the HLT to the mash tun, hose swaps, etc. This process is also exited by clicking on an input button. After the strike water is transferred to the mash tun, I refill the HLT with water to be used for the sparge.


This state powers on the HEX and HLT. The exit condition is based on a timer initialized at 12 minutes. When the timer gets to 0:00, the state is exited to the Mash.


During this state, the HLT, HEX, and pump are powered on. The mash liquid is circulated through the HEX in order to maintain temperature. The HLT's sparge water is heated to 170. This state is also controlled by a timer initialized to 60 minutes.

Mash Out

This state raises the mash temperature for mash out. The HLT, HEX, and pump are being controlled. Once the desired mash out temperature is reached, the state is exited.

Start Sparge

During this state the HLT and HEX are maintained at 170 degrees while the pump is turned off. This allows time for swapping hoses. This state is exited by clicking on a button.


During this state the HLT is off, the HEX is on, and the pump is on and the sparge water is pumped into the mash tun. This state is exited by clicking on a button.

I still have a few plumbing fittings to buy as well as some electrical components. I hope to have these items pieced together within a couple weeks so that I can run the BCS-460 through some trials before my first brewing attempt.